Supportive housing

Spending the Holidays in a Shelter

Most of us are fortunate enough to have never experienced homelessness. The youth in our shelter can’t say the same. Right now, as you read this, there are local teens who have no idea they’ll spend Christmas with us; that’s how quickly circumstances can change.

Christmas at home is a time for family traditions, gifts, gatherings, and festive foods. Understandably the youth in our care have complex and mixed emotions about spending the holiday season with us. We see an increase in fights, runaways, oppositional behavior, and youth generally acting out as they wrestle with these complex emotions. Imagine being away from your family during the time of year when families are in focus. Kids feel angry, frustrated, and hope that maybe their Christmas wishes will be granted, and they will reunite with their families in time to spend Christmas morning at home. Disappointment is a part of their holiday when those expectations aren’t met.

Temara Carthens, with Act Together, has spent her last two holiday seasons taking care of youth in our crisis care shelter. “It’s an emotional roller coaster for all of us, youth and staff,” she said. “We get so many youths from different backgrounds with different traditions, and we try to make them all happy. Some are happy to be somewhere that cares and tries to provide a loving and positive experience. Some youth don’t care how much you give; they want to be at home with their family.”

“We get so many youths from different backgrounds with different traditions, and we try to make them all happy.”

At Act Together, we take care of kids. We try and offer our youth fun holiday experiences and the opportunity to make new, positive memories. And, of course, wrapped presents for everyone. Christmas isn’t only about gifts, but all kids love presents on Christmas day. Ruben Marion has been working with Youth Focus for over a decade and spent his most memorable Christmas at Act Together. “One year, a 13-year-old boy received an art set. He shouted out; This is the best Christmas I ever had! It reminded me of how easy it is to make a lifetime memory, to give a gift that can help a child cope with what may seem like the worst time of their life.”

Act Together is fortunate to be a part of a community like Greensboro, who is so very supportive of our youth and program. Every year Greensboro opens their hearts and purses to let homeless, neglected, and pushed-out kids know it cares. Greensboro cares so much that even if a kid shows up on Christmas Eve or Day, there are presents for them too. We try and make everyone feel loved and have full bellies, big smiles, and grateful hearts.

We do our very best to make sure that when our youth have grown, the Christmas they spent with us isn’t their worst, and they leave with one or two fond memories. Thank you for supporting us and loving these kids as much as we do.

To learn more about how you can help, please follow us on Facebook. If you’d like to donate to a teen’s Christmas, please visit us online or donate via Facebook.

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Hope, Empowerment and Resiliency Through Housing

Youth Focus has a long history of providing services and support to youth, but what happens once they become adults and age out of programs offered to minors? With sparse offerings or programs that have no openings, long waiting lists or both, we decided to revamp a current transitional housing program we offer to encourage independence, with support and service offerings that cater to our clients as they become productive citizens in our community. Youth Focus is proud to roll out two new programs, called HEARTH: TLP and HEARTH: Permanent Supportive Housing.

HEARTH is an acronym standing for Hope Empowerment And Resiliency Through Housing

HEARTH was borne from our existing Transitional Living Program, which has recently approached the end of its five year grant cycle. Rather than offer a central living in a house in High Point where clients all lived together, we now offer a similar program with a clustered apartment model. Four apartments within close proximity, also located in High Point, are the new living spaces for eligible clients that need transitional living services, while offering a little more independence and privacy through a modified approach to transitional housing.

Our clients don’t have to go it alone with this new program; The HEARTH: TLP model offers a supervised support system. A nearby live-in staff member, along with a staffed office, are on hand to provide a degree of supervision and support as clients learn to budget, care for their own homes, acquire jobs or continue their education. In addition, clients will share their apartments with a roommate, splitting responsibilities and learning how to live more independently. In essence, the model mimics living in a college dorm. Clients get their own living space, and have a resident advisor available to them at all times in the same building. The transitional living program not only creates a level of accountability many clients still require as they navigate through young adulthood, but creates a wonderful ‘leg up’ they often need to help them achieve independent success. Once they have met their goals and criteria, clients can then move on from the program. With the help of their case worker, they acquire permanent housing of their choosing based on their specific criteria, or transition to another program depending on their needs. Clients eligible for HEARTH: TLP currently must be between 18-21 years of age.

Likewise, the HEARTH: Permanent Supportive Housing program offers scattered site apartments throughout Guilford County. Clients utilizing this program don’t need as much day-to-day supervision, but still require independent living support and rent assistance. The permanent support model also allows the client to lease an apartment in his/her name in an effort to help them build credit and learn financial responsibility, but with continued case management services targeted at building independent living skills. Upon ‘graduation’ from the program, the client can sustain the lease on the apartment and remain in their home as a permanent residence, taking over the payments and utilities. This is a rare opportunity for many clients! Qualified clients are between 18-25 years of age.

Both of these programs are part of Youth Focus’ Supportive Housing programs. The HEARTH Program Manager is Jonathan Mindas, and the Program Director is Sarah Roethlinger.

Learn More About HEARTH


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Given the current state and local guidelines for COVID-19, Youth Focus has temporarily suspended all on-site visitors and volunteers. This does NOT include clients or those accompanying clients to appointments. Those coming on-site will be asked to wear a mask for the duration of the appointment and limit the number of accompanying guests. Thank you for your understanding and commitment to the safety of our youth and staff.